John the revelator speaks of that other angel who is seen lightening the earth with his glory. Seventh-day Adventists have long portrayed the force and might of this messenger, commissioned by Heaven to go forth at a special time of earth's history to do a particular work just before our Lord's return. Surely that other angel is giving the truth with wondrous power in these days ; yet much is still to be accomplished. Just how much the literature ministry will mean in the work of this angel we can never learn until the work is finished; but we do know that "in a large degree through our publishing houses is to be accomplished the work of that other angel who comes down from heaven with great power, and who lightens the earth with his glory."—Testimonies, Vol. VII, p. 140.
A most effective-method of evangelism is the systematic use of printed messages of truth. Our books, tracts, and magazines are not bound by the limitations of fleshly representatives, circumscribed by personal peculiarities, nor cumbered with unbecoming mannerisms or gestures. They silently speak a great message.
Such an evangel can enter every section of the homeland, and may also penetrate the remotest regions in faraway countries. These glad tidings may be carried to our large cities and rural communities; to ships at sea and to those marvels of our generation that wing their swift way through open air. Wherever mankind intermingles, there also the printed message of truth may come. By the printing press truth is introduced into libraries and institutions of learning throughout the world. The message is proclaimed from reading racks placed in hotel lobbies, waiting rooms, barbershops, and similar public places. Wherever people congregate God's last invitation is extended. When our printed matter is allowed to do its work, its possibilities are boundless. Tracts can be tucked into a woman's purse, carried in a man's pocket, enclosed in a letter, packed with goods shipped from one part of the earth to another. There are hardly any limitations to the many ways our soul-saving literature can be employed.
Tracts placed inside crates of eggs or berry boxes, tucked into bundles of clothing or baskets of food, are distributed over a wide area by an almost endless number of people. The mail carrier takes them almost everywhere. They are used in Bible correspondence courses to follow up sermons delivered in churches, halls, or tents. They have a place in the automobiles, buses, and streetcars. Individual workers take them from house to house.
These silent messengers speak positive truth. Our books, periodicals, and tracts may be adapted to meet every circumstance and condition, and to work among all classes. In every social and financial stratum they speak certainly and positively, always telling the same story. Unlike the human messenger, they do not lose their patience with unreasonable people ; they never speak in harsh tones; they do not stumble over clumsy gestures; and no matter how often the reader returns, they will tell the same thing.
These printed messengers never wax so enthusiastic as to become rude; nor do they break into another's conversation, but wait quietly until counsel is sought. When inquired of, they speak ; when ignored, remain silent, awaiting the time when they shall be sought. Many homes and institutions are fast closed against the living preacher, but printed matter may enter. It visits prisons, hotels, and hospitals, and goes to the isolated. It is less expensive to transport books, magazines, and tracts than it is to send the living messenger.
The Christian worker who speaks only one language may secure literature in practically all the tongues that are employed throughout this great land, and thus he may have a representative who will speak to his foreign neighbor, whatever the language may be.
Seventh-day Adventist literature gives to each reader the benefits of the best talent of the denomination. Our most influential leaders, able doctors, finest preachers, world travelers, and men of learning, out of their experience may bring forth a wealth of instruction and counsel, passing this on not merely to the limited few who may come within their personal sphere of influence, but to vast multitudes. By this means even the unlettered man may have a share in soul-saving ministry, for he is able to place in the hands of the scholar, as well as the untutored, a book that is written by one skilled in the subject. Our books contain wisdom for the learned and yet present the truth in such a simple manner that it may be easily understood by the unlearned man.
Truth-filled literature powerfully supplements the personal activities of Christians in their daily living. Many do not understand why Seventh-day Adventists believe as they do. They will not take the time, or may be unwilling, to get this information from their neighbors personally. Some feel a certain sense of embarrassment in receiving instruction from one not of their own faith. To such persons, this message may be brought through literature.
Printed matter may be so arranged as to have a striking appeal. Clothed in garments of color, it catches the eye and stirs the interest, inducing multitudes to investigate.,
Our books and papers never take offense, nor do they become discouraged. They may be thrown down but will never become downcast. Stamped on, kicked around, lied about, insulted—they still speak the truth in all its beauty. The living messenger may sometimes lose his experience, abandon his course of righteousness, and drift into the world; but not so with the printed page. It never becomes a backslider but always tells the same story without change or fluctuation.
There is hardly a time limit to the usefulness of our literature. The life span of men and women who are engaged in God's service is confined to a comparatively few years. We may deliver many sermons today and conduct numerous Bible readings tomorrow, but soon we pass off the scene of action, just as did our godly pioneers. Not so our literature. It may serve the present generation, minister unto a succeeding generation, and bear the tidings of truth to still other generations, always giving the same story.
Our literature will speak to the people when they are in a receptive mood, when, having thrown aside their pressing daily labors, they sit down for mental and physical relaxation. It will speak also when there are no accusing eyes about, no one to scoff or ridicule, no one to make sport or to interfere.
Truth-filled literature should be scattered as freely as the leaves of autumn. As autumn leaves, falling upon sidewalks and shady porches, are brushed aside by the careful housekeeper, and yet.constantly replaced by others blown there by passing winds, just so, persistently, consistently, everywhere, our literature must be sent where it is wanted and where it is not wanted, over and over again.
It would be possible to blanket the whole North American continent with such a deluge of literature as has never been known in our denominational history. It is entirely within the realm of practicability to see that specially prepared literature is sent systematically into every home in this great land of ours. Our literature should constantly be passing through the post offices in cities, towns, and villages. Mail carriers on every route throughout the land might well be bearing regular issues of our denominational truth-filled magazines. It could be done, it ought to be done.
Such a program would support in a marvelous way the excellent efforts being expended by our radio evangelists, and would secure for the Voice of Prophecy and other radio speakers thousands of additional hearers. Many people are not listening to these programs, because they do not know they are on the air. A nation-wide literature campaign that would seek to enter every rural home and go into every place reached through the mail service, would have a double advantage in that it would carry its own message and in addition turn thousands toward our radio programs. By this means also multitudes would begin a systematic, daily study of the Bible and enroll in one of the Bible correspondence courses.
It is time for us to give serious consideration to a mass literature movement. We have been thinking along small lines. This is a day of big things, and we ought to make large plans—plans that will include the local church and community, while at the same time reaching out to territories so vast they embrace our city, our county, our State, and, by united thinking and planning, a whole continent. We are not bounded territorially. The Lord will not come to only one conference or several conferenc.es ; He is coming to the whole world.
Is it not time for us to pool our resources, our mental faculties, our spiritual strength, and our finances in a gigantic effort and literally shower our truth-filled literature over the whole continent like the leaves of autumn? It can be done; it should be done. It will not be done, however, until all are willing to consider the common objective rather than only that smaller portion over which we may be charged with special responsibility. God help us to scatter pages of literature until every person has received the message of truth in printed form.